Wednesday, July 30, 2014 9:45 pm
MONROVIA – Liberia announced Wednesday it was shutting all schools and placing “non-essential” government workers on 30 days’ leave in a bid to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola epidemic raging in west Africa.
“All schools are ordered closed following further directives from the ministry of education,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in a televised address to the nation. “All markets at border areas are hereby ordered closed until further notice.” Liberia, along with neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, is struggling to contain an epidemic that has infected some 1,200 people and left at least 670 dead across the region since the start of the year. “All non-essential staff — to be determined by the heads of ministries and agencies — are to be placed on 30 days’ compulsory leave,” Sirleaf added. “Friday August 1 is declared a non-working day and is to be used for the disinfection of all public facilities.” She said Liberia, where the death toll stands at 129 from 249 cases, would be contributing $5.0 million (3.7 million euros) as an “initial contribution” to the regional fight against Ebola. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer. To date, there have been more than 600 cases of haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, most confirmed as Ebola. Over 380 people have died, 280 of them in Guinea.